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Saturday Stepback: 1957

Though the 2019/20 season was scheduled to have concluded by now, we are nevertheless continuing to fill the void left by Cliftonville-free Saturdays with the latest chapter of our weekly series transporting us back to a game played in yesteryear.

Thanks to the help of the Club’s Heritage Development Officer, Paul Treanor, every Saturday during football’s downtime, will revisit a match from the past via the medium of contemporary newspaper reports – although there’s a slight alteration to the format due to the fact the Reds have never previously played on June 6.

When such anomalies crop up, Paul has been given free rein to reflect on any fixture of his choosing, with a League encounter against Ards on September 21, 1957 taking his fancy this week.

Keeper Murphy brings Amateurs a surprise draw

Man in a thrilling 2-2 draw between Cliftonville and Ards was Mick Murphy, a keeper in the best Cliftonville tradition.

He kept a brilliant goal and at times saved what appeared to be the unsaveable. Amateur selectors tonight, please note! Ken McKeague is another for the notebook.

It was a grand game which Ards should have won had they taken their chances. There was more cleverness about them but, on the run of the game, they were no more effective than the Reds, who never slacked in the entire 90 minutes.

The Amateurs and Ards were playing football – good football with brains behind it. The home forwards were exploiting the through pass.

One early cross from McKeague should have brought a goal but Robinson, with all of the net to pick from, sent wide.

Ards should have scored when Humphries raced in on his own but Murphy brought off a marvellous save at the foot of the post.

Lawther had two lovely chances; the first he missed lamentably with only Murphy to beat, but the second he took well and nearly burst the net for the Ards opening goal.

Ards now began to get the upperhand and only the appearance of inside forward Davies, who sprang from nowhere to kick off the line, stopped Lawther from scoring.

The Amateurs’ defence met with severe strain but, thanks largely to brilliant work by Murphy, they kept Ards out.

A sudden spurt by Cliftonville had the Ards defence in bother but the ball was scraped away.

Ards raced off again and again Murphy saved brilliantly from a Humphries shot.

Half Time – Cliftonville 0, Ards 1

After some clever but profitless Ards attacks, the Reds hit the headlines with an equaliser.

McKeague drove in a shot with so much power that the ball spun out of Moffatt’s arms and Robinson dashed in to finish the job.

Lowry had a goal in his pocket when he was allowed to walk through unhampered, but he hooked the ball in leisurely style over the bar.

Back came the Reds and with great gusto piled in. Galashn crossed, Robinson fastened on and Moffatt had no chance.

The home cheers had hardly died down when a free caught the defence napping and McGuickan equalised.

The football was still first class with Ards doing some brilliant passing which looked like slicing the Reds defence to bits, but somehow didn’t bring the goals.

Now and again, the home forwards flashed off, always raiding dangerously. Ards continued to fluff chances and had no one to blame but themselves for failing to collect both points.

Result – Cliftonville 2, Ards 2.

Cliftonville – Murphy; Beattie, Magee; Adair, McCleary, Galashan; Adams, McCullough, Robinson, Davies, McKeague.

Ards – Moffatt; Hunter, Cummings; Forde, Murphy, McGuickan; Humphries, Lawther, Munroe, Lowry, McDonnell.

Referee – R Campbell, Dungannon.